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The First Days After Release Can Make a Difference

NCJ Number
Date Published
June 2008
2 pages
Publication Series
This paper summarizes some of the research findings from "Parole, Desistance From Crime, and Community Integration," which contains research papers presented at a workshop held in June 2006 by the National Research Council's Committee on Community Supervision and Desistance From Crime.
The workshop papers distinguish a simple lack of reoffending in a given time period from "desistance" from crime, which involves a permanent abstinence from offending and the reintroduction of ex-offenders into mainstream, productive society. In discussing the characteristics of ex-offenders who are successful in desisting from crime, the data of the National Research Council (NRC) suggest that parolees with short criminal records have higher rates of postrelease desistance than those with long criminal histories. Also, parolees from their first prison sentence are more likely to desist from crime than those who have served one or more prison sentences. Further, individuals incarcerated for violent offenses are more likely to desist from crime after release than those convicted of drug and property crimes. This was true regardless of parolee's sex, age, race, or specific type of violent offense committed. Regarding the effectiveness of intervention programs in achieving desistance for participants, the papers indicate that treatment effectiveness depends on treatment-offender matching. Cognitive-behavioral therapy programs have had positive effects on the greatest number of parolees. Research has shown that the likelihood that an ex-offender will commit a new crime is highest a few months, weeks, or even days after he/she is released. Factors that help prevent such reoffending are programs and services matched to identified needs, a stable marriage, and a satisfying job.

Date Published: June 1, 2008